The History and Development of English

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4. Development of Diphthongs
5. The great Vowel Shift
6. Changes of short vowels in Early NE.
7. Growth of long monophthongs and diphthongs in Early New English due to vocalisation of consonants 8. Quantitative vowel changes in Early New English
9. Evolution of consonants in Middle English and Early New English 10. Growth of sibilants and affricates
11. Treatment o fricative consonants in Middle English and Early New English 12. Loss of consonants

1. Development of Diphthongs
One of the most important sound changes of the Early ME period was the loss of OE diphthongs and the growth of new diphthongs, with new qualitative and quantitative distinctions. Towards the en of the OE period some of the diphthongs merged with monophthongs. In Early ME the remaining diphthongs were also contrasted to monophthongs: the long [ea:] coalesced with the reflex of OE [ :] - ME [ :]; the short [ea] ceased to be distinguished from OE [ ] and became [a] in ME. The diphthongs [eo:, eo] – as well as their dialectal variants [io:, io] – fell together with the monophthongs [e:, e, i:, i]. Later they shared in the development of respective monophthongs. As a result of these changes the vowel system lost two sets of diphthongs, long and short. In the meantime a new set of diphthongs developed from some sequences of vowels and consonants due to the vocalisation of OE [ ] and [ ], that is to their change into vowels. In Early ME the sounds [ ] and [ ] between and after vowels changed into [i] and [u] and formed diphthongs together with the preceding vowels, e.g. OE d > ME day [dai]. These changes gave rise to two sets of diphthongs; with i-glides and u-glides. The same types of diphthongs appeared also from other sources: the glide –u developed from OE [w] as in OE snaw, which became ME snow [snou], and before [x] and [l] as in Late ME smaul (alongside smal) and taughte (NE snow, small, taught). The newly formed ME diphthongs differed from the OE in structure. They had an open nucleus and a close glide; they were arranged in a system consisting of two sets (with i-glides and u-glides) but were not contrasted through quantity as long to short.

System of Vowels in Late Middle English (the age of Chaucer, Late 14th c.)

|Monophthongs |Diphthongs | |Short i e a o u |ei ai oi | |Long i: e: : a: : o: u: |au ou |

5. The great Vowel Shift
The Great Vowel Shift is the name given to a series of changes of long vowels between the 14th and the 18the c. During this period all the long vowels became closer or were diphthongised. The changes can be defined as “independent”, as they were not caused by any apparent phonetic conditions in the syllable or in the word, but affected regularly every stressed long vowel in any position.

|ME (intermediate stage) NE |ME |NE | | i: ai |time |time | |e: i: |kepen |keep | |e: i: |street |street | |a: ei |maken |make | |o: ou...
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